A near miss means that an accident almost happened. A
worker has had a close call that could have resulted in a serious injury, but
it never happened. Why should a company go through the trouble of recording and
analyzing these accidents that almost happened? Because it will prevent
accidents and therefore reduce the cost of doing business. Not to mention,
improve the general feeling that the company cares about their workers. Suppose
that Labor Statistics identifies that for every 300 near misses there is one
serious injury. On average suppose that there are 3 to 4 million workplace
accidents a year. If we multiply each injury by 300, the result is 900 million
to 1.2 billion near misses per year. Probability is the measure of the
likelihood of an event happening. Therefore, if a company reduces the number of
near misses it will reduce the number of injuries.
Why do accidents happen and therefore near misses? Defects are not only imperfections in products but
imperfections in how work is performed and the conditions under which work is
performed. Once a defect happens the law of probability takes over. How many
times can a product be used before it breaks or fails, how many times can a
worker do a task before there is an injury or how many times can a person walk
over a floor with oil on it before there is a fall?
Report Near Misses Before They Become Accidents:
When a near miss occurs, report it immediately to the
nearest foreman or supervisor. If the near miss is a result of an unsafe
condition, don't continue to work under that condition until the problem has
been corrected and your supervisor gives the okay to proceed. If the incident
is a result of unsafe acts, be certain that everyone involved has been alerted
to their actions before they continue with the job. The potential for incidents
exists throughout the workplace, so everyone must help identify them
Near Misses Are A Warning:
Warnings surround our lives and from a very early age we
learn to recognize them. We learn that an unheeded warning usually results in
some harm to us. Here are a few that come to mind:
The rattle of a rattlesnake.
The oil light in a car.
A dog growling.
A flashing yellow light.
Try to think of a few yourself. It is pretty easy to do.
Therefore, recognizing warnings are easy, actually doing something about them
is not so easy because it involves a choice. The choice whether to act or not
is to a large extent controlled by consequences and experience. What are the
consequences if you continue to drive your car when the oil is low...if the
consequences outweigh the inconvenience of action we act...and act fast. We
should perceive near misses as a serious warning and act to prevent the
consequence of an accident.
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